Thursday, October 27, 2011

Diana's blog

I am linking it on the right as well, but here's the link to Diana's blog about her trip to Japan.  She hopes to update weekly.  This one is long, because it covers the first four weeks :)

Tokyo Tea Time

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My girl in Japan

I don't know that Diana will be able to actually keep a diary or blog, although she'd like to - she is already having a tough time keeping up on Facebook - so I figured I'd post about what I can from what we've chatted & Skyped about her time there. :)

The trip started Monday evening, leaving Roseburg around 4:00 in the afternoon.  Diana had packed all her stuff and I got off work.  She said good-bye to her brothers (she'd already said good-bye to her dad while he was at work), and we drove down to Medford.

When we arrived, there were already lots of cars there.  Diana's aunts & uncles were there for a little send off party.  There was ravioli & sauce, salad & parmesan bread. For dessert, I made a crumble from my apple pie filling which we ate with ice cream.

I missed a photo with Grandpa or Myrna & Doug.  :/

After everyone left, we chatted with Grandpa a bit more & watched some "Dancing with the Stars."  Diana & I shared a guest room, and she set her alarm on her phone with a "cock-a-doodle-doo!!!" ringtone to wake us up.  Yeah - I should not touch the dang phone - I could NOT get it to turn off when it rang at 4:00am!  It cock-a-doodle-dood about 14 times.

Diana took a shower while I collected our stuff and got it to the front door.  Pop got up and gave Diana a hug to send her off & let her know how proud he was of her :)  We left the house by 4:40 and were at the airport by 5:00.

Both of us were feeling pretty anxious here.  Neither of us likes to fly - but Diana said she was stubborn and was going to do whatever she had to so she could get to Japan!  We figured out that Horizon was the same as Alaska Airlines, so she checked her big bag through to Tokyo, and got checked in.  They had a metal cage in the dimensions for carry-on luggage, so she put her backpack in there to be sure it would fit.  She had room to spare :)  Then we went upstairs to the restaurant since she had almost an hour before boarding.

We both had the french toast, and while she's smiling here, she was nervous & only ate 1/2 of the food.  At least the service was good & it was tasty enough!  At 6:00 she headed down to security, we had a long hug, and she went to security (no line - yay small airports).  She got through security fine, and waved to me from the other side.  I went up to the observation deck & waited for her flight to leave.  The observation deck is covered, but open air, so it was a tad chilly.

That's when I saw she was going to be in a prop plane.  Diana's not really fond of prop planes - when she & her dad had to take one during the MADE, it swayed all over the sky like a boat.  However, her Grandpa had assured her that early morning flights are not turbulent.  It's the afternoon & evening you have to watch for :)  That's Diana just in front of the nose of the plane in the walkway.

Her flight took off as scheduled, and I took a video clip to show Connor when I got home.  She actually had already landed in Seattle before I made it back to our house :)  But then she had a long wait there before she would board her flight to Korea.

She managed to find a plug and wifi, and was able to talk with me on Skype while she waited at Seattle airport.  She thought it was pretty dang big :)  She said Grandpa was right & the flight had been smooth.  She prefers the larger jets when she flies though :)

At around 1:00 she logged off to get ready for her flight to Seoul, Korea.  This was a long one - 12 hours.  Lee found a program online that showed us the progress of her flight.  They flew north over Alaska & Russia, then down south.  About the mid-point of her trip, I found out there was a typhoon going through Japan.  Now I was checking her flight AND the weather in Japan.  I left her a message on Facebook that  her flight might be delayed, and then I went to bed.

Around 2:30am, the phone rings.  Diana is in Seoul, and her connecting flight has been canceled.  The airline is sending the passengers to a hotel for the night.  She was rather confused and very tired, so we just told her to stick with the group, listen for the instructions and have the concierge do a wake-up call so she's up in time for her shuttle back & flight.  She had already made a friend by then, and we told her that was great & they could make sure the other wasn't missing when it was time to go - Buddy System!!  I didn't sleep much the rest of the night after we hung up.  Poor kiddo!

I went to work the next morning, but we knew she had Lee's number if there was another issue, but nothing came up.  After I got home from work, she arrived in Tokyo (I checked the airline's flight status).  It was 9:00 am there (5:00pm our time) by the time she was able to find a wifi connection & plugs.  She had to wait until 2:00pm her time to meet up with her group.  In the meantime she'd made it through customs, and had to stay with all her luggage while she waited.  She found the meeting place, and kind of set up there to draw, study and whatever else she could do to stay busy.  I went to bed while she was doing that.

When I got up at 6:00 the next morning, I logged on to see she'd posted she had met the group - but that was all...  I was a little worried, as I'd hoped to see something about arriving at the University.  Around 6:30 she logged on, and they had JUST ARRIVED at the dorm!  There had been traffic and delays and who knows what - but that was pretty much 48 hours of travel for her from our airport to finally making it to her dorm!

There's no internet in the dorm rooms, and neither of her roomies were there yet (although one is a Residence Assistant, but had left the room a mess...).  There's a common room next to the communal kitchen, and there's internet there, so that's where she was.  She was really exhausted, and I thanked her for letting us know she was okay - and then she went to bed.  Wow - what an adventure!

I just talked with her this morning on the phone (I wasn't up yet on my computer & she was ready to go to bed, so she called).  She starts school tomorrow, with a placement test for her Japanese.  She's not sure how difficult the test will be.  If she scores lower, she'll basically be re-doing her Japanese from last year (which was actually a challenge to her - but she'd passed everything).  If she scores higher, the class will count as Japanese 4 for a whole year at UO.  Either way, her Japanese will improve tremendously by just being in the country, but one way she gets credit for it.  I figure either way it's a win - she'll reinforce what she was challenged by before if she places lower.  Her roomies are still not there.  One might be sick & coming later?  She's made friends and met people in real life that she's only spoken to online before :)  She's done tours with the school and hung out with the other international students quite a bit.

One shock to me was that there was no food for the students.  I understood they were responsible for making their own food at the university, but I expected they would have had some sort of welcome basket for when the kids arrived.  They came in at 10:00pm and there wasn't anything there for them to eat outside of vending machines.  The next day, they all had to go shopping - but it was a good thing Diana had packed bars & snacks so she had something for dinner & breakfast!

She's having a blast so far, and she's got a lot more photos up on Facebook.  School starts for her tomorrow (like the schedule here), and I hope she does great & has a blast!  I'll update more later.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Diana and Japan

Boy - this has been a long time coming.

My earliest recollection of Diana liking things of Japan was when she was in Kindergarten.  She participated with me in the local community acting play, The Mikado.  Even though she didn't need to, she memorized the words (I think they just *sounded* Japanese) to all the songs while she was onstage, so she could sing along.  At 5 years old, she was very cute :)

About this time, she also started watching Sailor Moon on TV.  This anime from Japan was very different from typical US cartoons, in that it had a story line that advanced over the season.  The episodes stood alone just fine, but there was a definite romantic plot line which was pretty involved throughout the whole school-girl-transforms-into-super-hero theme.  Sailor Moon's character matured as did her friends' as well.  Diana started drawing around this time, mostly Sailor Moon & her friends.  She was Sailor Moon for Halloween one year (2nd grade?) and she collected anything she could.  Interestingly, we could get a lot more Sailor Moon stuff in Canada than in the states...  Of course, Sailor Moon takes place in Japan, and they ate Japanese food :)

The interest in drawing continued, and Diana also discovered Manga - Sailor Moon started as a Japanese comic book before it was made into the cartoon anime.  Diana found other titles and became interested in more & more Manga & Anime.  She discovered a magazine called Shonen Jump, which featured five or six manga, plus taught about Japanese culture and writing at the same time.  She managed to get a paper route, so she could continue her subscription, and that lasted at least three years, until she was able to build her manga collection by getting the actual books.

In Junior High, we found out there was an exchange program to Shobu, Japan through the school.  It was kind of privately run, and there was a panel of people who interviewed the students interested in going.  Diana was very excited and really did everything she could to be able to go.  In the interview, she talked about going to the temples and gardens, and seeing the various historic sites.  To our surprise, she was not chosen.  Later, we discovered all the children of doctors had gotten in... even those not so interested in going.  One even told her, "you should be going instead of me."  So our economic level had something to do with her not being able to go.  I told her that when she was older, she'd have a lot more control over doing something like this.  Plus, this trip would have only been 10 days.  It was barely worth the flight going.  In the future, she'd be able to go and STAY a while.

Her favorite became Full Metal Alchemist (still her favorite), and by high school, she'd found a group of students also as into Manga & Anime as she was - the Japanese Club.  She joined Freshman year, and was president for Sophomore, Junior & Senior Year.  All the while, continuing to draw & read, of course.  She was also part of the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) and learned a lot about traveling through that experience.

So off she goes to U of O through the Ford Foundation.  At the first big family gathering as a new Ford Scholar, we hear about the stories of the graduating Ford Scholars, many of whom had taken advantage of the Ford Foundation's generous attitude toward travel and study abroad.  Not only was she getting her tuition almost completely covered, they were going to assist her in travel to Japan!

All this time (she's just finished her Junior Year) she's been planning and figuring out when she could go.  She's been acing most of her Japanese classes, and I guess she's pretty good with the speaking (she also speaks German with a minimal accent - she has a good ear for dialect).  She really 'gets' the culture and the values.  She applied for the program, and had to be accepted on both ends (UO and Senshu University) with letters of recommendation, GPA, etc - Just Monday she got the final approval from Senshu :)

We went and reserved her round-trip flight yesterday through a local travel agency.  They were able to match what I'd seen online, but if there's any issue, Diana will have a phone number to call & have people help her :) She'll have a stopover in Seoul, Korea (she's excited about that too) and we'll be able to drop her off in Medford, and pick her up there too.  She's leaving mid-September, and comes home mid-December.

She's trying really hard to find a summer job now.  She has to pay for her UO residence to hold it, even while she's in Japan, and she wants spending money, obviously.  If she can't find something, she'll have to take her first loan out since she started her college journey (which is a testament to her frugality as a student), but she's very hopeful for the summer - she has applied for a variety of jobs, and has an interview lined up.  She can work in either Roseburg or the Eugene area, and even though she doesn't drive, there's the bus or hopefully a carpooling situation can be set up once she's employed.

Oh - and this summer she gets to be a bridesmaid for her friend, Becki.  Wheeeee!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Summertime is coming! Finally!

The weather in Oregon has felt like March/April until just this last weekend.  It has finally gotten warm enough to get out in the yard.  I am hoping my tomato plants will take off, now that I put them outside, finally.  I already managed to overwater one of the Roma plants while they were waiting in the kitchen for the weather to get warm.  Oh well.

This is our last week of school.  Both Trevor & Diana have finals this week, and Connor & I will be done on Thursday.  He & I will do Extended School Year starting after the 4th of July, but until then, we're completely open.  I think he intends to jump a lot on the trampoline.  I intend to reclaim my house.  I get it into great shape for the Open House at Christmas, and it just declines from there.  Obviously, the main household needs are met (meals, laundry, dishes), but other things kind of grow (papers, recycling stuff, things that need sewing/fixing).  While the living room & kitchen stay relatively clear and 'company friendly,' the bedrooms & laundry room tend to get less tidy.

So over the next couple of weeks after school is out, I will be picking something and tackling it until it's done to my satisfaction.  If I can keep on track, I may even attack some of the boxes in storage under the house :)  I'll only do a few hours a day - because there's still my family, the yard, and fruit-picking season is rapidly approaching.

Diana will stay in Eugene during the summer, although I expect her to come home here & there for visits.  She needs to earn money for her term in Japan in the fall.  Trevor needs to find work to start paying down his debt from college.  If he doesn't get a paying job, he will be working for me in the yard.  For free (well, room & board).  But as that's what he's done the last few years, I'm really pushing for a paying job!!!

We also recently bought a tent trailer for a fantastic deal, which is currently with Lee's niece, Karrie in Medford. After our nephew Tony's wedding on July 3rd, we'll be bringing the trailer home to stay.  We need to create a pad in the back for storage.  That's more Lee's thing than mine.  I'm excited to have our own trailer.  Connor will probably be using it all summer just in the backyard, and anyone visiting or passing through will be able to camp in the backyard for free again (like Carolyn & her family!).  This one actually has a lot more amenities than the one we borrowed last year - lights, heating & such, for instance.  We just need to get our truck's electrical hook-up fixed, and we'll be able to do short camping trips with Connor.  Lucky for us, a 15-minute drive already gets you to river-front campsites in our area :)  There's closer sites, but camping at the fairgrounds isn't really my idea of "camping."  :)

There's no one really playing the fair this year that I know anyway - I don't know if I'll go to a country singer concert with a friend or not.  I *will* be doing as many Music On The Half Shell concerts as I can.  Those are free and always entertaining.  There will also be Movies in the Park coming up to do with Connor.  And three weddings to attend this year.  We'll be going to Canada in August, when Lee has earned his Costco vacation time :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Birthday 2011

I had originally intended to take the day off.  I was supposed to have a couple of days off in April, but the student I was working with didn't have those days off, and I had worked with the arrangement that I'd swap Mondays for Fridays.  Well, that would have been fine had I stayed where I was, but then I moved again, and I lost my 2nd day.  I don't know how it works out with my new schedule, but I figure it'll all come out in the wash. 

So the plan had been for me to go up to U of O to meet with Diana and get to see On The Rocks perform.  That's the acapella men's group that was on the show, "The Sing Off" this last year.  They had a viral video with "Bad Romance" and they are just a lot of fun to watch :)

But - it was Earth Day, so they ended their show while I was still on the road with my friend Susan.  Dang.  Well, at least Diana recorded them doing a few songs, and they didn't perform the Bad Romance song anyway (which is what I really wanted to see).

Diana being my great daughter, actually followed and then got my favorite member of the group (Jonah) to wish me a happy birthday on video :)  That was really cool.

Since we weren't going to be at a concert, we traded having Taco Bell dinner for going to Red Robin (Yum!).  Then we stopped by See's Candies, and then we headed to the Yogurt Extreme shop.  Turns out if it's your birthday, your whole yogurt creation is free!  I was thinking maybe a dollar off or something.

We grabbed Diana's laundry & stuff, and went home.  Lee had baked me a carrot cake *yay* and over all, it was a pretty nice birthday :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Connor's fundraiser for Special Olympics

Connor's Spring Break Camping 2011 - all done!

I awoke to a rooster crowing pretty early, but it was warm and snuggly in the sleeping bag, so I just dozed a while.  Connor made some noises off on his end of the trailer - all happy sounds.  He was really loving the whole experience :)

Lee had talked with his dad the night before about helping him get a new printer at Costco in the morning, and Pop had invited us to breakfast.  So I kept on the warm clothes & started packing up.  Nothing was damp this time, because I'd left a little vent open above Lee & my sleeping space, and outside, everything just stayed dry (how nice!).  So I just started folding up things & packing stuff up.  Lee came out to help me & Connor came out to explore the morning.  Diana stayed "asleep" until I told her I needed her sleeping bag.  :)

After Lee got most of the stuff packed we did the best cleaning we could of the trailer.  I had brought plenty of paper towels & 409 :)  Diana saw Nancy at the barn when she went to dump the trash, and then we drove over there & we gave her the stuff we'd borrowed & said thanks & good-bye.  Nancy still wasn't feeling great, so we kind of had to keep our distance.

We headed out to Central Point to Pop's place and while he & Lee went shopping, Diana & I took much-needed showers (yay!).  I should have stopped at a coffee place on the way there, though.  I was really ready for the coffee once we got to the restaurant hours later!  Lee & Pop got the printer installed & all, and eventually we headed back home.

Connor had a violin lesson at 4:00, so we really just had time to give Connor a bath & change of clothes before we went to do that.  Everything is pretty much put away now, and we have the photos & memories of our adventure.

Connor's next request - Tent camping by a stream & go fishing.  (Fishing?  He won't eat the fish!).  I think we can pull this off sometime over the summer :)  But I'll need a camp mattress...or a cot!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Connor's Spring Break Camping 2011 - the fun starts

Okay - keep in mind, the forecast was for rain all week.  Just a day or so before we left, Tuesday was showing, "Sunny breaks."  We were really lucky - it stayed dry throughout our camping experience, with only a teeny sprinkle in the evening, just to make people nervous about having come out to join our campfire!

I think we all slept pretty well.  It didn't get to freezing, but it was cold.  There were enough blankets & sleeping bags to keep warm, as long as you didn't let them slide off.  Lee & I had some dampness in our part of the tent, but that was because we forgot to open a bit of the 'window' to let out the condensation.  It was strange not having a car right next to us.  We'd put all the food in the trailer with us, since I didn't want to leave it out for critters.  I would have normally used the trunk of the car as the 'pantry' during this time.

I think I got up first and went to start the fire.  I was surprised how open the area was.  In the dark, it had seemed like closed-in forest.  There was a nice big fire ring off to the side of the site that I couldn't see the night before either.  There was a good pile of cut wood nearby, but it was pretty damp.  While we were working on building the fire, Nancy came by with Joshie and she had some dry wood.  I was trying to light the stove by this time, but I couldn't get it to start.  Lee checked the propane tank & said it was empty.  He loaded it into the back of Nancy's car, and I went to go get it filled.

While I was doing that, Nancy went home and made a big pot of water & pancakes for us!  No trouble!  The guy at the filling station said the tank actually did have propane, and he topped it off for me.  I got back to the trailer & Lee hooked it up again, but needed a wrench - so he took Nancy's car & went back to their house & jogged back.  Once he tightened everything, we could get the stove to work!  Hooray!!  I had brought our small propane tanks, but not the stove, since there was one with the trailer.  Later I found another stove under the bench seat storage, but I didn't know that was there until later :P

In any case, we had hot water & pancakes.  We ate by the fire all bundled up in blankets, etc.  Connor thought this was great.  He kept throwing stuff into the flames, and running around the area to explore.  Diana & I were just kind of hanging out, because that's the way we do it in the morning when we don't have to do anything important.  Lee was still really worried about the car being stuck.

After we'd all eaten, Diana went over to the car to take photos of it stuck in the mud.  I went through the trailer & tidied up & stuff, and Connor basically ran around the area & checked things out - always staying in sight of Lee or me.  He did a great job of not wandering, which had been a concern for me when thinking about doing this sort of thing.  He really did a great job of sticking close.  There was a port-a-potty for the renter/campers that help Nancy with the horses, and it's a 'nice' one that has the blue stuff so it doesn't reek :) 

Before lunch, I called Nancy to see about when we might pull the car out - she was about to call me, and said she was on her way.  She brought her truck down, and Lee & I got in (me in the bed on a bale of hay), and headed through the muck to free our car.  I had forgotten the keys (I thought they were in my pocket) so I ran back while Lee & Nancy got the chain onto the front end.  When I got back, they were ready to go - Nancy carefully towed the car, while Lee drove inside.  He said putting the car in low gear helped too.  The car was pulled free, and then Nancy drove to where we could turn, staying ahead so if Lee got stuck again, she could tow more.  Lee managed to drive through everything, all the way back to the good road :)  Nancy had him follow her to the horse barn so we could clean all the mud off (there was a lot).  Lee's comment was, "Gee, you really don't want us taking any of your topsoil, do you?"

Once we had a car again, we'd considered checking out the natural bridges (made by lava) on the way up to Crater Lake, but apparently there was a lot of snow up that way, so we gave it a miss.  We went ahead and set up for lunch.  Connor had canned spaghetti (which I didn't know if he would eat or not - he did), and we had tomato soup.  I also had the pop n fresh biscuits, which Lee showed us how to wrap around the skewers to cook on the fire (mine was raw inside - just right!).  Again, Connor was experiencing just was he was wanting to do - campfire lunch :)

Diana & I went back to where the car  had been stuck & took photos of the ruts left behind - Diana used my mud boots to show the difference in depth - heh.  And no, we didn't create ALL the ruts, but I did make some new ones on the left of this photo when I tried to avoid this big deep part - apparently there's rock below though, and it would have been fine (hard to tell that in the dark tho).

 Karrie came to pick up Josh & had Ben & Micah with her, so we got a chance to visit with her.  Kraig had come down sick the night before, and Nancy wasn't feeling great now, so Karrie wanted to help with cleaning out the horse stalls.  When we got there, however, the gal that works there was already just about done, so instead, I went & got Connor & Diana, and Karrie got them set up to ride Sterling.
I got the dishes done, and when they came back & Connor messed with the fire more until family started showing up for the campfire/dinner time.  Shane traded with Karrie, because she had a class, and he went off with his boys to do stuff for a while.  They had pizza for dinner.  Donna brought Lee's dad and Tony, and some yummy guacamole.  Myrna & Doug came with Daniel, who did a cool time-lapse video of the campfire later.  Tony's girlfriend Ashley showed up too, and he announced they are getting married in July :)  
It was really nice that so many members of the family were able to come out.  For the ones that couldn't make it (or were sick), I'm hoping we can come back during the summer and do this again when it's warmer :)  Connor has already said he'd like to try tent camping, and after seeing how well he stuck close by, I think we can manage it.  Maybe some other camping family folks will join us as well.  I just need an air mattress...  :P

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Connor's Spring Break Camping 2011 - the adventure begins!

He's been talking about it since last July, when Connie was with us.  He kind of just made a decision in his head, and then informed us that we were going Spring Break Camping in the Tent Trailer in March 2011.  At first he had a different date for Spring Break (I don't know how he even knew it was in March) but he adjusted after I showed him the school schedule.  This month when I put up the white board calendar, he wrote in "Camping" on Monday of Spring Break.  And he had talked about it often, but once it was on the calendar, he stopped.  Seeing it written down meant it was going to happen, and he didn't need to remind us anymore, I guess!

I know it looks like we are catering to his whims, but really, he only has the one thing he wants to do.  The rest of the time, he doesn't ask for anything (food excluded).  Experiences strengthen the connections in his brain, so we try to help him make those experiences he wants to have happen.  And he changes things and grows.  Last year, he wanted to do Spring Break Camping, and we rented a yurt.  That was kind of what he wanted, and he got to ride his bike, which was part of the request.  He was careful to be more specific with "tent trailer" for this year (but we couldn't do bikes, and he didn't ask for that).  Next time, he wants to do camping in our green tent - but I think we've gotten away from Spring Break, as it was pretty cold first thing in the morning!  I told him summer camping is much more warm :)  He also wants to be by a stream so he can do fishing.  I think we can swing that too :)

I don't know if we'll ever get Trevor to join us on something like this unless we were to get a full-on, size-of-a-regular-apartment 5th wheel trailer.  Or maybe one of those bus RVs with the pull-out sides.  If it doesn't have it's own bathroom & shower, Trevor is probably not going to be into it.  He gets physically ill if he's not comfortable, and his comfort is based on man-made conveniences - like flush toilets & heaters.  Still, it's not a bad deal - he takes care of the mail & the dog.  We don't have to worry about having left something electric on, and on longer trips, he takes care of the plants as well.  And it's not like he's going to throw a party & trash the house.  As it is, he knows he could have had a friend over, and he said he thought about it, but never actually called his friend!  His computer kept him company, and after hearing of our adventures, Trevor was really happy he didn't come.

I'd talked with Karrie about borrowing their trailer and I'd asked Nancy about putting it at the campsite on their ranch.  We were all in agreement, and Karrie had Shane set it up for us last weekend.  Shane said the one mattress was kind of damp because there was a leak in the roof, so I made sure to pack extra tarps so it wouldn't be an issue.

As we no longer have the van, I had to be pretty organized with how we packed the Camry.  Yes, the truck would have been a lot easier, but the truck eats gas like nothing.  I brought extra sleeping bags to use as comforters because we can easily get below freezing temps at night this time of the year.  Also, the forecast for the week was rain, rain, rain!  I got our 4 camp chairs in, the large Rubbermaid tub with the camp supplies, and our smallest cooler.  There were the 4 backpack/bags for our clothes, and then extra blankets, and foodstuffs & pillows.  The space for the 5th passenger in the car was piled up with stuff, and the back window ledge was used as well.  We were pretty stuffed in the car!

Lee got off work at 6:30, and I think we were on the road a little after 7:00.  That means we made it down to the ranch about 9:15ish.  By then, it was DARK.  But it wasn't raining!  I had a hard time seeing the little road to the campsites, so we turned around at the horse barn, and then I found it and headed toward the camp area.  I was trying to see the trailer with my high beams, and I could tell the trail was really wet.  However, I thought if Shane was able to tow a trailer in, we should be okay in the car...  We still didn't see the trailer, and I actually passed the campsite area (in the dark, everything looks the same - woods).  I could tell the trail was getting worse, so I pulled off into the grass more and we got a little ways, and then we didn't move :(  Lee switched with me and tried to rock the car back & forth a bit, but only succeeded in getting deeper.  So we all got out, and sloshed around to the back to find the lantern & flashlights in the trunk (I had them all together & they were actually accessible!) and then we hiked back to the road, and up to Kraig & Nancy's house.  Lee's shoes (at least they were old ones) were completely soaked, but I was in my new Kamiks & Connor was wearing the mud boots, so we were okay.  Diana had on cowboy boots, and seemed okay.

At least when we got up to the house, everyone could use the flush toilet!  Nancy got in her truck and took Lee & me back down to the car, while Kraig kept Diana & Connor and was going to take them back to the campsite.  Lee was not saying much.  He wasn't a happy camper :(  Nancy laughed about it, and I was okay - I've done the camping thing with Girl Scouts enough to have gotten to the "it's an adventure" point.  Sometimes things just don't go your way.  You work around it & do your best.  Nancy's truck is a ranch truck - it navigated the mucky sludge great.  She backed it up to the car, and we tarped the back, and then unloaded everything into the bed.  It's actually pretty impressive how much stuff that little car can hold!  Once we got everything we could see (still pitch dark), Lee & Nancy were in the cab, and I laid on top of the gear in the back while Nancy drove to the ACTUAL campsite.  A spot I'd never seen - we never would have found the trailer on our own.

In hindsight, I really should have just driven to the house to start.  I was trying to avoid bothering Kraig & Nancy.  See how well that worked out?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break 2011

I don't really have much of a plan - I'm hoping there's relaxation in here somewhere...

Diana arrived from school via a friend on Friday evening.   Lee came home from work & took her skating, and then she went to see "Paul" with some friends from here.  She & Trevor are both waiting to hear back on their grades from last term, but Diana was already pretty upset about her final grade for her Calculus class - looks like she's going to need to redo, unless there's a very generous curve (and that instructor is not known to curve).  The class grades will post on Friday, and then she'll know for sure.

She brought a nice big bunch of laundry with her, so the washer & dryer have been going pretty much all weekend.  I did get my shower scrubbed nicely, and hopefully I'll get a little yard work in.

Today is Monday, and I'm prepping for Spring Break Camping - Connor's request since last summer.  We don't have the van anymore, so I'll need to be creative in stuffing the trunk of the Toyota.  We'll be in a tent trailer, and the weather has been drizzly/rainy, so we will need extra tarps and blankets.  Sure, sunny weather would be preferable, but this is the time we've got, so this is when we're going.  Trevor will house-sit and hang with Liberty, since he just get stomachaches when we take him camping.  And as we'll be on Kraig & Nancy's ranch property, there's no flush toilet nearby, and that wouldn't work well for Trevor.

On Tuesday night, we're hoping to do a big family campfire with Lee's sibs.  I'm looking forward to that.  During the day we'll see if we can get some horseback riding in, and maybe explore around the property a bit.  In the early morning, I expect to see the deer & maybe other wildlife.  It's pretty open spaces on the ranch.

Once we're home again, I have house stuff to do that I've put off for a while.  I'd like to get my laundry room in order.  There's plenty of work in the yard.  I need to transfer stuff down to the basement after it's sealed up against moisture.  My house feels very cluttered to me right now - it bugs me.

If I can get my sewing machine out, I'll do some mending and maybe start on a few smaller projects I've been thinking about.  And maybe I'll get some reading time in. :)

Diana goes back to campus next Friday.  The new term starts on Monday.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen Grand Caravan

A while back, Lee had a fender bender with our van.  Car #1 was parked illegally, and then car #2 stopped right in front of him while he was avoiding car #1.  Oh well, that's how it goes.

So for the last few months, we've had the van sitting in the yard, waiting for us to figure out what to do with it.  The estimate Lee got was $3K to get it fixed.  Even though the impact was about 15 mph, it still was enough to ruin the bumper, hood, light and driver's side fender.  Enough got pushed into the wheel that it later deflated.  It was still drivable, just not okay to drive :)

So eventually, Lee found someone to sell the car to - I expect they'll take it apart for the parts (which I checked as a possible option to repair - the good parts should more than make up what the tow cost & payment to us was).  Lee had taken photos of the outside & inside to send to the buyer, and so when I went out the other day to make sure there was nothing in the van before the tow truck came to get it - I was dismayed to find most of the interior covered in MOLD.  Ugh!  Oregon is very damp in winter.  Even though the van was all sealed up, it's not enough to keep the damp out.

Everything had black, white, brown, grey mold on it except the ceiling, and surprisingly, the driver's seat.  The worst places?  The seatbelts.  They were all fuzzy & disgusting.

I got a bucket of soapy water & Clorox wipes, put on some rubber gloves & set to it.  I didn't want the tow people to turn around & say, "Um, no - we didn't sign up for the mold-mobile."  I got most of the mold off the upholstery and seatbelts and carpet areas where it was the worst.  I hope if they decide to repair & resell the van, it'll be cleaned really thoroughly!

At least that made it a bit easier letting go of what was my favorite car to date.  It did a great job hauling us all back & forth to Canada and down to California.  It was comfortable, reliable and totally Girl Scout worthy.

True, I no longer need such a big vehicle - and with the gas situation we're in now, it's better I don't have one - but I will still miss it.  It was a good van.

Now I have my eye on something more along the lines of a Ford F-150 or Toyota Tacoma.  Four doors & the power to haul a tent trailer across the USA.  Ford is making an Eco-boost something that's supposed to work better for mileage...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dry Spell

Daniel commented on my Facebook that I haven't posted a blog entry in five weeks.  I hadn't noticed.  I've been dealing with some un-fun stuff at work, and its been taking a toll on me.  Hopefully I've turned a corner now, and I'll be able to get back to my regular stuff.

Like clearing 2010 out of file cabinet, and setting aside what I need for taxes so my kids can do their FAFSA stuff.

Like getting all the Christmas stuff back down in to the basement where it lives the rest of the year.

Like organizing the closet and doing the sewing/mending stuff that's gotten backed up.

Like posting to my blog :)

I have photos & such to put up for the last few weeks, and then I'll start in on the new stuff.  We have Division Winners coming up next month in my TOPS club, so as the leader, I need to prep for that.  Also, Connor & I are doing the Special Olympics Cross Country skiing again this year, and this time we'll compete at the Regionals in Bend near the end of February.

Yep - plenty to do!!

Stay tuned...